Town council rejects medical marijuana tax measure
‘I don’t see why we should put an extra tax on marijuana if it’s medical’
By Katie Klingsporn
An anti-tax sentiment that has gripped much of the country in recent months resonated in the chambers of Rebekah Hall on Tuesday, when the Telluride Town Council rejected the idea of putting a new excise tax measure before voters.
Up for consideration was an ordinance that would have placed a measure on the November ballot that asked voters whether to approve a 5-percent excise tax on the sale of medical marijuana, medical marijuana paraphernalia and medical-marijuana infused products.
The council had discussed such a measure, which is in place in other towns such as Granby and Fruita, as it established a medical marijuana licensing authority in recent months.
An excise tax is a tax that is imposed on specific products. In this case, it would have come on top of a 5 percent sales tax already imposed on dispensaries.
“I don’t see why we should put an extra tax on marijuana if it’s medical marijuana,” Saunders said. “I’m not even in favor of putting it out there.”
Council Member Thom Carnevale echoed this. He said he was opposed to the idea of piling an excise tax on top of the sales taxes medical marijuana dispensaries already collect.
And council member Chris Myers said he doesn’t think it was a good idea.
“I don’t think it’s an appropriate time to be going to the voters and asking for a new tax,” Myers said.
Number crunching by town staff showed that the tax could bring in tens of thousands of dollars in tax revenues a year for the town. In 2010, the town collected $32,425 from medical marijuana facilities. If there would have been a 5-percent excise tax, it would have brought an additional $36,025 in.
For 2011, year to date collections have come in at $26,144. Based on that number, staff estimates that the town could have collected as much as $60,000 in tax revenues during the year 2011 if the tax was in place.
Jerry Greene, who owns Baked in Telluride, called the tax measure “greedy.” He said that just because the town has the opportunity to make money doesn’t make it the right thing to do. The town is already receiving money from taxing dispensaries that it wasn’t receiving before, he added, and that should be sufficient.
Several medical marijuana dispensaries have set up shop in Telluride since the fall of 2009.
At the end of the discussion, no council member made a motion on the item, rendering it dead.